Opal Gateway: A Regional Mixed Use Development

Statement of Justification
February 20, 2013 Revised August, 2013

Rezoning Request: C-2 District and I-1 District Background. Dating back to 1967, Fauquier County has repeatedly “recognized the significance of Opal as a regional crossroad”. That recognition has historically recommended Opal as a regional commercial and employment center. The commercial uses presented herein represent a substantial effort and commitment to that historic goal by providing employment opportunities and services to the local community while also promoting an environment that encourages the regional traveler to “stop, shop and recharge”. Opal Gateway is envisioned as a mixed-use center with flex-industrial, medical office, retail uses, a motel/hotel and an RV Park. This unique mix of commercial uses will promote a high diversity of job opportunities and local services for the Opal. Additionally, it will clearly encompass several important land use goals for the Opal Service District; including, (i). enhancing the quality of life of the County’s citizens, (ii). concentrating and directing growth into the Opal Service District; (iii). contributing positive tax revenue to the County; (iv). promoting additional economic development opportunities in Opal; and, (v). supporting the County’s public infrastructure policies for Opal. Two Principal Uses. 1. Medical Center In recognition of the County’s goals for Opal, special attention has been applied in determining the appropriate commercial uses and their respective intensity at Opal Gateway. This planning effort is proposing a reasonable balance of uses to support the local and regional markets, both today and in the future. THE KEY business proposed at Opal Gateway would be the 55,000 square foot Medical Center. This Center will offer a broad spectrum of medical services; including but not limited to an Urgent Care Center for routine and emergency services, a Health/Wellness Center for promoting exercise and diet to facilitate good health and a Children’s Rehabilitation Facility for treating children diseases and illnesses. Placing the Urgent Care Center at Opal Gateway would provide an additional catchment area for Fauquier Hospital. Specifically, this facility would allow County residents the opportunity to receive local medical care without traveling outside of the community to competing facilities in Fredericksburg and/or Stafford. Such services would encompass basic medical exams to stabilizing patients for emergency transport to the local hospital. Accordingly, this facility would satisfy an existing and growing demand for medical services in the southern part of the County.

Additionally, this medical complex will establish a children’s rehabilitation facility under the direction of the “Children’s Heart Institute “(CHI). This Institute, which provides cardiac treatment for the unborn, children and young adults throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area, is proposing to expand its treatment services to include a centralized rehabilitation facility for its existing and future patients. The strategic vision of this facility is to not only provide care to the CHI patient population, but to become a multi-disciplinary destination for rehabilitation treatment for children across the full spectrum of diseases and illnesses. Again, Opal Gateway’s convenient location makes it an ideal setting for CHI and this comprehensive rehabilitation program. The rehabilitation services associated with these programs will take several days to complete; accordingly, it is important to have other medical and related commercial uses near the rehabilitation complex to support its patients. The other principle medical related uses proposed include a Health/Wellness Center and a LabCorp facility. Both of these facilities will be integrated with the rehabilitation services as part of comprehensive treatment program dedicated to improving the health and well-being for children with serious medical issues. To provide these medical services and to staff these medical facilities, professionals of varying expertise will be employed at CHI. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics data, healthcare employment makes up one of the fastest growing labor force segments in Northern Virginia and has an outlook to grow much faster than the national average for other employment opportunities over the next ten (10) years. The employment needs of the proposed medical services/ programs are self-evident with this statement. The added tax revenue that will come from these medical programs will help support the local economy in many ways; including, supporting an expansion in the local job market, expanding medical services to the local community and promoting additional medical training in the community. See the updated Fiscal Analysis for further discussion on the Opal Gateway tax revenue benefits. Other related commercial uses that would support the medical center include typical retail uses, a motel/hotel and the RV Park, which is discussed below. It is expected that these companion uses would supplement and satisfy the patient’s basic daily demands from lodging to prescriptions and meals. In addition, these retail uses would also accommodate the regional traveler along Route 17 which is a major objective for Opal. 2. RV Park In recognition of Opal’s regional transportation status, the Comprehensive Plan recommends that future business in Opal be “designed to accommodate and serve regional through traffic on Route 17 and U.S. route 15/29 as a pleasant and friendly place to take a break….”. Currently, the volume of daily traffic traveling through Opal is at +/-42,000 vehicles/day. A significant percentage of this heavy volume is made up of regional and national RV travelers and truckers. It has been estimated that between 6,000 to 8,000 Trucking/RV vehicles pass through Opal daily. 2

In appreciation of this regional significance, Opal Gateway is proposing a 65 acre RV park. With its extensive frontage along Route 17 and in conjunction with its two (2) major intersections, Opal Gateway is ideally situated to provide regional and national RV travelers a safe and convenient location to seek a variety of commercial services. The proposed RV Park will have approximately 175 sites that will range from a few tent sites, to several small cabins clustered around a water amenity to a variety of full service utility sites for large RVs. In addition, the RV Park will have a welcome center, a common area for utility services, a maintenance facility and a retail store for basic services. Other quality design features include a high quality architectural entrance, an undisturbed buffer along its boundary, the inclusion of onsite vegetation into the sites, the implementation of a quality landscaping plan and an internal pathway. All of these features will promote an attractive location for the traveler to stay either over-night or for an extended period. And finally, adjacent to the proposed RV Park is planned a small three (3) acre Light Industrial Park. This Park will share its major entrance with the RV Park. As currently designed, the major access point for both of these uses are separate and distinct from the proposed medical center. This separate access allows these uses the opportunity to serve the needs of their customers and tenants without adversely impacting the more localized and medical uses at Opal Gateway. Accordingly, this is a major transportation benefit associated with Opal Gateway and a unique opportunity for Opal. Commercial Entrances Both entrances proposed for Opal Gateway are approved by VDOT for full turning movements; egress and ingress. Additionally, prior to build-out, it is anticipated that one of these entrances will be signalized, which would further promote economic development at Opal Gateway and other properties along Route 17. With respect to the County’s design objectives for Opal, Opal Gateway is proposing distinct architectural features with accompanying landscaping at each commercial entrance. Further, the architectural/landscaping theme for the entrances will be extended along the Route 17 frontage. This comprehensive design approach will create a quality “street-scape” for the local and regional traveler. In Summary, Opal Gateway will: (i). further the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan; (ii). promote Fauquier County’s public water policies; (iii). provide important local medical and employment services; and, (iv) satisfy an increasing market demand associated with the regional RV traveler. At build-out, Opal Gateway is projected to produce almost 40 MILLION DOLLARS in annual sales, create over 300 jobs and generate roughly $680,000 in net tax revenue annually to Fauquier County. It is apparent that Opal Gateway will initiate the level of economic activity that Fauquier County has been seeking and promoting for Opal since 1967. 3